shutterstock_110185169Any brand that finds itself at a competitive disadvantage can leapfrog its peers. But if you are the competitor in a distant also-ran position, you’re going to have to think and lead very differently. No matter your brand’s size, industry, or longevity, this process should work for you.

  1. Benchmark broadly using leading indicators. Don’t just measure yourself against your industry peers, but against the best of the best. If you want to improve your recruiting, go understand how Google recruits. If you want to improve your merchandising, look at what Nordstrom’s is doing. If you want to understand consumers and consumer behavior, study Starbucks or Warby-Parker. Benchmark against and learn from successful brands. Unfortunately, a lot of industries take a myopic view. “Those are not industrial products.” Who cares? We all have to compete for mind-share and wallet-share.

To benchmark, rely on leading indicators as close to real time insights as possible: sentiment analysis and social analytics. You need to really understanding how people feel about you, your efforts, and your brand at the time of their choosing and on the devices of their choice. I believe that “Progress trumps perfection.” Don’t spend six months building an analytic tool; move with whatever you have that can give you a sense of sentiment as demonstrated by current behavior. Surveys produce stale, lagging indications of results you created from your (often) distant past efforts.


07May 2015

Berkshire Hathaway held another incredibly successful annual Shareholders’ meeting in Omaha last week; that prompted writer William Green to post on LinkedIn his ten all-time favorite insights from Warren Buffett. I submit that each of these quotes from the brilliant investor offer supremely valuable advice regarding the investments we all should make in our strategic […]

30Apr 2015

Give the academic landscape a quick glance and you will realize: The global learning and development space is evolving at an accelerated rate. From Western Governors University’s unprecedented online graduation rates, to forward-thinking business models like LinkedIn’s purchase of, to the academic institutions now using MOOCs to bring a world-class education to anyone, anywhere, […]

09Apr 2015

I’ve been working with 16 executives on behalf of InfoComm, the industry association that represents the professional audio visual and information communications industries, taking them through a nine-month program to develop innovation in their businesses. This program encompasses four face-to-face sessions and five web meetings. As I write this I’m in New York City preparing […]